Early modern ideal city planning and military architecture: especially in Northern Europe
City planning -- Europe, Northern -- History Military architecture -- Europe, Northern Fortification -- Europe, Northern Cities and towns -- Europe, Northern -- Growth -- History Πολεοδομία -- Ευρώπη, Βόρεια -- Ιστορία Στρατιωτική αρχιτεκτονική -- Ευρώπη, Βόρεια Οχυρώσεις -- Ευρώπη, Βόρεια Πόλεις και κωμοπόλεις -- Ευρώπη, Βόρεια -- Ανάπτυξη -- Ιστορία
The process of urbanisation experienced a slight upswing in early modern times, especially in northern Europe. Aside from the foundation of new towns, the modernisation of already existing towns was on the agenda. In this, political, economic, and military goals were connected in the framework of a new politics of power. Different from the towns of the Middle Ages that had grown slowly, now the conscious planning of the town after geometrical patterns that expressed the Renaissance striving for order, regularity, and discipline, moved into the centre of attention. Reverting to Vitruvius, from now on circle and square determined the planning of towns. Both were combined by Filarete to his ideal town Sforzinda. Dürer’s town (Vierungsstadt) corresponded with the square, Speckle’s radial town with the circle; for both realised foundations of towns can be named with Freudenstadt and Glückstadt, respectively. However, most newly founded towns predominately used a combination of both basic figures. The building blocks on the inside of the town were – following the square – arranged in a rectangle, the bastion-like ring of fortifications was circular. The optimal use of the area was the goal. This led to a symmetrical arrangement of the building blocks in a chequered pattern, to the standardisation of the sizes of the plots of land, and with this, the inhabitants’ needs. Embankments and bastions were constructed with compass and ruler and virtually forced on the natural terrain through extensive movement of soil. Through this, the Renaissance’s new image of the human being in the urban society gained a structural expression/form: order and discipline in an almost military formation. This ideal served as orientation in early modern town-planning, and was carried through in the new foundations that were still frequent in northern Europe, as well as in the town expansions and renewals of fortifications. The town-planners had to decide between radial town and squared. In their designs the tendency towards the radial town can be seen again and again. Its realisation however, failed, mostly because of the constraints of sensible land utilisation. The pattern of the modern town was shaped for centuries by the ideal town of the Renaissance. Interrupted by romantic ideals of an irregular town with crooked streets, represented by Camillo Sitte, the geometrical regularity was recognised again by the new functionalism of the 20th century. Most of the time people build their towns and cities after ideal conceptions. The continued existence of buildings in our towns and cities gives information about their change in the course of time.
Includes bibliographical references
Paper presented at Seventh International Conference on Urban History: European City in Comparative Perspective, Panteion University, Athens - Piraeus, Greece, 27-30 October 2004, Session: Wars, Bastions, and Towns: The Impact of Fortifications upon the Civic Community in the Early Modern Europe